I shared the story behind our kitchen island way back in March, with a promise that I’d post some pics of it when it was finished. I’m finally fulfilling that promise, even if it has taken me eight months. We managed to get a first coat of Annie Sloan chalk paint in English Yellow onto the base of the vintage school science bench not long after we’d bought it (I couldn’t live with the nasty orangey tones for long), but it needed a second coat and that didn’t happen until a couple of weeks ago. I’m as efficient as ever. I found the chalk paint pretty easy to use, and I loved not needing to sand down the surface before painting it. We’d probably be wise to wax the painted surface now it’s finished, but I love the colour so much that I’m nervous of doing anything that might change it. I’d like to find some bright oilcloth to line that bottom shelf, so I’m keeping my eyes out for the perfect design. We only have one bar stool at the moment (a bargain buy from a friend), which I’ve topped with a basic Ikea seat pad which I covered with Ikea Fredrika fabric and pompom trim from Buttonbag. There’s a handy drawer in the unit in which I stash our saucepan lids (we normally have a stack of saucepans sat on the base of the unit). I said in my original post that I thought I should oil the worktop. I still think I probably should, but I doubt I actually will. I adore its distressed finish and I just don’t think the unit would feel the same if it didn’t have that battered surface.
I definitely reckon that this lab bench is our best-ever eBay purchase – it really has transformed the kitchen, both in appearance, and in how we use the space.
I love our new kitchen (can I call it ‘new’ when it was actually finished over two years ago?), but since it was installed it has definitely become a neglected space that wasn’t living up to its potential in our home. We’ve made various changes to the way we use the space, including installing a banquette (built-in seat) and moving the kitchen table to make way for a small island unit (more on the banquette soon, I promise), but when it came to accessories and a pulled-together look, the room needed reworking.
The main problem was that the jumble of kitchen accessories that were in the kitchen were just that – a jumble. There were a few new bits, lots of old stuff, and no discernible theme. My favourite feature of the kitchen is our wonderful aqua wall tiles, so I wanted to find accent colours that would show them off. Candy bright shades were the perfect fit. They’re fun, make me smile, and give an eclectic feel that I think suits our crazy household.
The island was an old school lab bench we picked up on eBay. I’m completely in love with its battered tabletop (it’s where I shoot the majority of my IG snaps) but I didn’t like its original orangey base, so we’ve painted it a happy yellow. I chose the Cable & Cotton lights (in Gooseberry, Bubblegum Pink, Ruby Red, Bright Yellow, Bright Orange and Pure White) to pull the colour scheme together – and the rest of the details have been built around those shades. I find the lights a brilliant reference point when I’m thinking of adding anything new to the space – they act like a permanent moodboard for the room. I sprayed some old tin cans and then planted up with some fresh herbs, and I think there are a few more bits in the room that are crying out for a spray, too.
There’s still more to do (I think there always will be), but as is the way in a busy family home, everything takes a long time to actually happen. At least we’ve made a good start though.
Half-term’s over (already? how?) and we’re back to the daily routine school imposes. But the walks to school are still a highlight that we all enjoy, and it felt good to be back on our well-trodden paths.
I listened to Es’ constant chatter – she’s wanted to play games all the way to school each day this week. ‘I Spy’ is a favourite, she also likes me to phonetically sound out things I can see so that she can blend the sounds together to form the word. We’re also into story-telling – taking turns to tell a story. I’ve got very slack with my podcasts and haven’t listened to any at all this week, but I’m going to give Serial a go next week – I’ve heard it’s addictive. I looked at the heavy frost through the eyes of the kids, who stopped every couple of metres to marvel at how the grass was glittering in the sun or to pick up a leaf, fringed with ice crystals, for closer inspection. On the wetter walks, I was struck by how much richer the colours become when they’re given a glossy coat of rain. I pondered why I’m incapable of getting anything done until the deadline is looming large and forboding. I’ve always been like this – I work better under pressure (it’s why I’m suited to journalism I think) – but it’s not really a pleasant way to function. I faff about until there’s only *just* enough time left to get my current assignment done and then I become consumed by stress and anxiety and everyone has to tiptoe around me. This week was one of those weeks.
Better late than never with my Urban Jungle Bloggers post for Igor and Judith this month. The theme was ‘My Plant Shelfie’ and I’ve chosen to share the open shelving in our kitchen. We bought these shelves years ago on eBay. They’ve since been used in almost every room in the house but are currently offering us a great storage space on the kitchen wall for all my jars of ingredients. Every so often I toy with the idea of painting them, but I quite like having some natural wood next to the white gloss kitchen and dining table, plus I can’t face taking them off the wall and actually getting the job done.
I have mixed feelings about geraniums. The smell reminds me strongly of my grandmother’s house (she always had pots of them around), which I like, but then my mum brought all her geraniums in from the garden every winter – a load of them always got stored in my bedroom and their scent was really overpowering. Not so good.
I can’t remember the name of the plant in the white pot, but it was given to us by my lovely mother-in-law who despaired of my inability to keep houseplants alive! I am proud to say that this plant has been happy in our kitchen for over a year – I think it’s proof of my budding green-fingeredness. Sadly, I don’t have as much luck with herbs – the parsley and mint in these DIY planters (spray-painted tin cans) are already starting to look sad after only a couple of weeks. But I do love fresh herbs, so I’m determined to keep trying to grow them at home.
Search for the hashtag #urbanjunglebloggers on fb, Twitter and IG to see the other plant shelfie posts this month, and follow Igor and Judith’s Urban Jungle Bloggers board on Pinterest for some great houseplant inspiration.
How gorgeous are these blinds? When these shots popped into my inbox I couldn’t help but go ‘ooh’. As a whole, I prefer the simplicity of blinds to curtains which I feel can sometimes be a bit fussy, but I have to confess that every blind in our house is white. That’s not great for a colour-loving house really, is it?
These two beauties are from a limited edition range created by contemporary artist Julia Vogl for Luxaflex. When I hear the words ‘limited edition’ I usually hold my breath to hear the crazy price tag that comes next, but happily the prices for these start from £150 which I don’t think is bad at all. My favourite is ‘Summer Arrives at the Bay’ (top) with its burst of colour, but the blues of ‘Enveloped’ (bottom) are stunning too.
And if you fancy winning one, then the My Luxaflex My Style Instagram competition is your chance. Luxaflex is inviting you to post images of things that inspire your style. Tag the images with #myluxaflex and you could win an original piece of art work created by Julia Vogl.
Note: This may look like a sponsored post, but it isn’t. I just loved the blinds and wanted to share them.
Happy Halloween! We’ve had a lazy day at home today – our first of the half term and it’s been just what we all needed.
Earlier this week, an email from Swedish kids app design studio Toca Boca popped into my inbox about the new app that’s just been launched called Toca Boo. Now as far as kids’ apps go, we’re big Toca Boca fans in our house. Playing games on my phone or the iPad isn’t something the twins get to do with great regularity (I’m a bit of a dinosaur about them playing games I’m afraid), but the gender-neutral approach Toca Boca takes to all its digital toys is right up my street. Luckily the twins share my enthusiasm, and the Toca Boca apps we already have definitely rank highly on their list of favourites. I love that I can hand a Toca Boca app over to the kids for them to work out themselves, and there aren’t any in-app purchases or advertising being pushed at them.
Toca Boo is aimed at kids aged between three and six, and is centred around a kid hiding in order to jump out and scare her parents. For a cute taster, check out this mini horror movie – Bonnie Says Boo! – released by Toca Boca to coincide with the launch of the app.
I made use of the free printable Toca Boo craft kit early this afternoon when I needed to manage the twins’ bouncing-off-the-walls levels of excitement about the impending Halloween party and first ever trick or treat outing later in the day. They’ve already been playing with the app, so they were thrilled to recognise the Toca Boo characters, and the popcorn went down pretty well, too.
And what an incredible Autumn day it was. Everything saturated in the most stunning golden light. Light that was so warm, became almost blinding at times, and that provided the perfect partner to the reds, oranges and yellows of the trees. I found myself stood still, just gazing at the way the light caught the leaves as they drifted down from the trees when the soft, warm breeze blew.
All I wanted to do was to savour every second of that light and its warmth on my face. If only time would stand still, or I could bottle those sunbeams and carefully pack them away, to bring out again as a salve during the long, dark days of winter.
Cliveden, with its beautiful gardens and woodland bursting with autumn colour, was the perfect place to spend such a magical day. We walked the pathways, we ran across the lawns, we ate outside in the sun, we got lost in the maze. Hour after happy hour outside in that glorious warmth.
Last weekend the kids and I took a break from limping towards half term to join a big group of old friends at a holiday house in Frinton-on-Sea, Essex. The house was incredible – huge rooms, loads of space for the kids to run riot (which they did), and best of all it you could see the beach from the front garden. The weather was kind, the company was excellent and the fresh air was just what we all needed.
I looked.. at blue skies, amazing cloud formations, Fonz up to his waist in the sea, the gorgeous colours of the beach huts lined up along the seafront, a friend’s kite soaring in the sky. I listened.. to the kids sleeping (and waking too early) in our shared room, to friends’ news, to lots of laughter, and to the brilliant conversations between my two and the other children. I pondered.. how hard solo parenting is, even when you’re surrounded by supportive mates. And I obsessed about whether there was anything I could have done differently when Fonz had one of his most impressive tantrums ever on the quiet and refined Frinton-0n-Sea high street (answer: there wasn’t). And I love that my only solo visits to the high street were for a bottle of gin on Saturday evening and a black coffee on Sunday morning.
Frinton-on-Sea – you may not want us back again (!), but I promise you we won’t be able to stay away.
Recently I’ve been working on a little mini makeover in the kitchen. I still love the main elements in the space – the turquoise brick tiles, the simple white gloss units, and the light worksurfaces – but I didn’t feel like the other components in the room gelled together well. It’s easy to do when you’re busy – you just add things for their individual design or practicality without taking a step back to look at how they impact the space as a whole.
And so I’ve been on a mission to unite the separate elements with a tighter theme. Our house is full of upbeat colour, so I decided that hits of candy-coloured brights would work well, especially as the days get greyer and duller with the arrival of winter.
I’m still pulling the final bits of the makeover together, but in the meantime I thought I’d share a sneaky peak of one the first things I chose for the space. I’m a huge fan of Cable & Cotton’s string lights, especially the option to choose the colours you want to feature. I picked out gooseberry, bubblegum pink, pure white, bright orange and bright yellow for my light string, which we have now hung above the kitchen window (much as I love this draped arrangement, it’s not wholly practical in a working kitchen!).
I’m a fairy light superfan, and this style of string ball lights features in a lot of the ideas on my ‘for the love of fairy lights’ Pinterest board (one of my favourite boards). Please head on over and follow my board if you share my fairy light obsession.
During the process of planting my succulents in my painted glass jars, I managed to lose a little baby stem off the larger cactus. It was too perfect to go to waste, so I planted it up into a tiny silver jug I picked up at a charity shop ages back and now it’s one of my favourite things in our home. Cacti just don’t come cuter than this.